Stage Lighting At Sea: Balmoral Cruise Liner Upgrades Theater With Chauvet

Posted on March 1, 2016
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The majestic Balmoral cruise liner has sailed through a sea of change in her distinguished 28-year history in a tireless effort to provide passengers with a memorable experience. In 2008, the ship made news by undergoing a major refit that expanded the size of its midsection by 30 meters and added 60 new balconies to its decks to better reflect the changing tastes of British passengers. In keeping with this commitment, the 45,000-ton vessel recently underwent a major refurbishment that included the addition of a large collection of LED fixtures from CHAUVET Professional to The Neptune Lounge, its main theatre and entertainment venue.

Mirage Productions, the on-board show company, introduced NoiseBoys Technologies to Fred Olsen to design, supply and install the new LED lighting rig to replace the high maintenance, energy-thirsty par cans that were being used to light the entertainment venue. NoiseBoys’ PhilBeynon turned to COLORdash Par-Hex 12s, Rogue R2 Spot moving heads and COLORdash Batten-Quad 12 linear fixtures to bring the ship’s theatre shining into the 21st century.

Aside from bringing a new level of efficiency to the theatre’s lighting rig, the new fixtures also opened a new world of creative possibilities to designers responsible for lighting productions at the venue. “The main show area on board the Balmoral serves to fulfill several purposes,” commented Beynon. “During the day the lounge can host anything from live gameshow events to classical recitals. At night there is often a mixed program consisting of comedians, magicians, cabaret artists or a full production show, and, of course, live music. As a result, we needed to create a lighting rig that was to be as versatile as the program itself.”

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The 20 COLORdash Par-Hex 12 fixtures were installed on overhead truss hanging evenly throughout the stage. Used for general stage lighting these par style fixtures, which feature an intensely bright 120-watt RGBAW+UV LED light source, greatly enhanced the color rendering capabilities of the stage’s lighting system.

“The Hex fixtures were a great choice, as there’s very little that you can’t do with them,” explained Beynon. “While they offer a fantastic tunable white light for general use, their varied spectrum of colors makes them perfect for a whole manner of situations. Having the UV LEDs built in means that we can flood the whole stage with UV in an instant without having to buy separate cannons or tubes. Plus, when mixed with other colors such as amber or green, they produce a kind of ‘other-worldly’ light that I haven’t seen anywhere else.”

According to Beynon, the six COLORdash Batten-Quad 12s installed at the back of the stage fulfilled two major purposes. “As there was virtually no backlight before, we decided upon installing the Batten-Quads in a long line across the back of the stage to give a general back light experience, thanks to their evenly spaced yet brightly colored LEDs.” He continued: “However, thanks to the fact that each Batten-Quad LED can be individually controlled, they are often programmed to add dynamic movement to the stage as well.”

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This movement is also accentuated, according to Beynon, by the fact that the COLORdash battens can be used in conjunction with six CHAUVET Professional ÉPIX Bars and ÉPIX strips that NoiseBoys also provided. “When put together with the ÉPIX units, which fill the backdrop in a kind of starburst formation, we were able to create a magnificent wall of effects as backdrop.”

A collection of six Rogue R2 Spots was positioned across the back of the stage to provide dramatic beam effects and highlighting for the stage. “Before, the techs had four movers out front, but they had very limited use apart from general break-up over the stage,” said Beynon. “Now, thanks to the Rogues, they can have strong beams cutting through haze, moving beam effects or highlighted spikes for different settings.

“We looked for a while at which moving spots to use, and in the end the R2s won out because of their vast range of features and output,” he continued. “The ship already had some equivalent moving light fixtures from another manufacturer on board, so the option was there to add some extras to their existing stock rather than go with a different model, but the Rogues really outshone them in terms of features and versatility.”

As a result of the NoiseBoys’ additions, the Neptune Lounge now has the tools to put on the best productions to rival any on-land theatre. Thanks to CHAUVET Professional, Mirage Productions was able to adhere to the ship’s budget, and, perhaps most importantly, the ship’s guests now can be treated to fantastic productions. Beynon concluded: “The techs on board have received many comments about how good the new lighting is from the passengers in the audience, who we wouldn’t normally expect to notice specifically, let alone go out of their way to say thank you.”